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The Conspiracy Against the Human Race

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  1,988 Ratings  ·  205 Reviews
"The Conspiracy against the Human Race sets out what is perhaps the most sustained challenge yet to the intellectual blackmail that would oblige us to be eternally grateful for a 'gift' we never invited."
--From the Foreword by Ray Brassier

"The Conspiracy against the Human Race is renowned horror writer Thomas Ligotti's first work of nonfiction. Through impressively wide-ra
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published June 25th 2010 by Hippocampus Press
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Jason Realizing that life is objectively meaningless is the best, most liberating thing in this life and is exactly, paradoxically, what gives it meaning…moreRealizing that life is objectively meaningless is the best, most liberating thing in this life and is exactly, paradoxically, what gives it meaning (though totally illusory, subjective meaning), and therefore, helps me with happiness. Happiness itself, though, is ephemeral. Our emotional state is not consistent.(less)
Jalen Anderson Worship a bearded man in the sky so you can approach a nirvana when your body expires. Otherwise, join in on the programmed approach to existence:…moreWorship a bearded man in the sky so you can approach a nirvana when your body expires. Otherwise, join in on the programmed approach to existence: suffer, reproduce, die. (less)
The Conspiracy Against the Human Race by Thomas LigottiThe King in Yellow and Other Horror Stories by Robert W. ChambersGalveston by Nic PizzolattoThe Stranger by Albert CamusHeart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
HBO's True Detective
1st out of 114 books — 73 voters
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The Best of Thomas Ligotti
6th out of 24 books — 27 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Bill  Kerwin
Nov 07, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it liked it
Shelves: weird-fiction

Are you one of those hardcore True Detective fans held in thrall by Detective Rust Cohle's rants about the bleakness of the universe? Did you wonder where all that weird stuff was coming from? Here. From this book. That's where it was coming from. Sometimes even verbatim.

This is an impressionistic survey by weird fiction writer Thomas Ligotti of the bleakest practitioners of modern philosophy, the guys who make Cioran look like a stand-up comic and Schopenhauer and Camus like irresponsible polly
Aug 09, 2011 Szplug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ligotti is a pessimist—and not some namby-pamby, equivocating, of course it will rain every day of my vacation! kind of doubting dude: Ligotti's pessimism is old school, pure, richly endowed with the ichor of nullity. Ligotti believes, firmly and avowedly, that, as the human race would have been better off never having come into existence in the first place, the most beneficial and sensible outcome for our species, as constituted at this particular point in the space/time continuum, would be to ...more
Nicole Cushing
Jul 17, 2010 Nicole Cushing rated it it was amazing
Darkest book I've ever read; and perhaps the most convincing. Highly recommended for all readers, except those with sanity or self-delusions left to lose.
Aug 12, 2010 Jeremy rated it really liked it
A remarkable if sometimes exasperating work of philosophy. Let me begin by saying that I agree with essentially all of the core assumptions of this book. As a Buddhist practitioner, I was especially moved by his treatment of suffering and of the Buddhist tradition, which I feel is mostly very perceptive, even if far from the platitudes of contemporary Buddhism. Further, the book spoke very directly to the sense of profundity I have occasionally experienced in the horror genre (HP Lovecraft and ...more
Sep 05, 2016 Diletta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La cospirazione contro la razza umana è un'opera terribile che avviene ogni giorno. Ligotti apre di fronte al lettore un sipario svelando le incertezze e l'instabilità della vita umana, la storia di come l'uomo, dai primordi, ha soppresso la propria coscienza, ha riposto in una stanza asettica il vero sé stesso, nascondendosi insieme ai suoi simili, in mezzo ai suoi simili, grazie a processi che lo hanno aiutato a sopportare questo incredibile fardello che è la vita.
Perché è la vita la cospirazi
Lighten up, Francis.

I was very tempted to leave it at that, but I do have more to say.

I should be the perfect audience for this book. I love Lovecraft's work, my worldview could best be summed up as "life is mostly pain, punctuated by moments of joy," and I'm congenitally pessimistic as was my father before me. At least, by the standard definition, but that's not far enough for Ligotti, who restricts the ranks of the true pessimist to those who believe that life is fundamentally not worth living
Aug 24, 2010 Krapp rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: the brave
Thomas Ligotti is currently the best writer of English prose. Cormac McCarthy was better till the detestable Border Trilogy, and maybe The Road is up there with his best. Until McCarthy tops The Road, however, the honor goes to Thomas Ligotti. It doesn't matter at all you've never heard of him: I believe he prefers it that way.

I do not agree with the ... what? ... the anti-metaphysics of this, Ligotti's first nonfiction book. The fact I don't agree does not diminish the dark grandeur of this boo
Feb 19, 2014 Philipp rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
The pessimist’s credo, or one of them, is that nonexistence never hurt anyone and existence hurts everyone.

Remember when you were 16 and you thought too much about life and its implications that you wound up in a "dark valley", got so depressed and borderline-suicidal that you decided to leave the "valley" and never look back? Thomas Ligotti has built himself a nice house in that valley.

To summarize the thesis of this non-fiction book/treatise: being alive is not alright, optimists are deceiving
Sep 30, 2010 Kathy rated it it was amazing
If you are happy-go-lucky, optimistic, and think that life is a wonderful thing & happy to pop out human offspring because it makes you smile to think of continuing human life, then this is NOT the book for you. If, however, you see human life as a cruel joke that we know the fatal punch line to, then read & feel like slightly less of a freak, knowing that the genius literary mind of Thomas Ligotti knows your pain as well. He can't do anything about it, of course, but he makes a fine ...more
Apr 02, 2013 Alexander rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tony Robbins
Recommended to Alexander by: Ryan
Mr. Ligotti has generously compiled his unexpurgated liner-notes to Titannica’s maxi-single “Try Suicide” and “Try Again (Adam’s Song)” in The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, a trade paper edition released on the Hippocampus imprint. (I’ve customized my own copy with an embedded sound-chip that plays S & G’s 59th Street Bridge Song each time I turn the page.)

So throw away those useless orange bottles of Paxil and Lexapro and let Happy Tom’s magic rainbow swirl of antihumanist glee explode
Tim Pendry

A disappointment but perhaps not an unexpected one. Thomas Ligotti happens to be one of the greatest exponents of uncanny fiction, equal to his earlier masters Poe and Lovecraft - but in small doses.

We have already reviewed some of his short stories which are magnificently disturbing and thought-provoking but have also noted that he has difficulty in developing them to novella length.

His art is that of the short story. This foray into non-fiction is little more than an opinionated, often repeti
Oct 16, 2011 knig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Consider the following postulation: ‘Schopenhauer concurs that hypothesizing a thing-in-itself as the cause of our sensations amounts to a constitutive application and projection of the concept of causality beyond its legitimate scope, for the concept of causality only supplies knowledge when it is applied within the field of possible experience’. Now, imagine this psycho-babble oops, sorry, this aesthetic perception as a mode of transcendence, spread over 500 pages, and try reading it through. ...more
Mar 12, 2014 Charlie rated it did not like it
I read this because Nic Pizzolatto mentioned it in one of his interviews about books that influenced his writing for TRUE DETECTIVE.

To be accurate, I should write that I "read" it. I found Ligotti's book to be unreadable: haranguing, desperate, and bloated. Once I realized that I couldn't stand to read the book cover-to-cover, I tried to read each section separately. Each time I started another section, I was simultaneously bored and irritated by the style, the cynicism, and the constant insiste
Randolph Carter
How do you rate a book like this? A brilliant exposition of Ligotti's philosophy and the most credible description of what the uncanny and horror are about. But I reject the ultimate life-view in the end and Ligotti would ridicule me for it. So be it. The difference between the optimist and the pessimist. I couldn't go on living if I embraced his philosophy. It would be illogical. Maybe I am a coward. So be it. Ultimately I embrace my short journey here as a worthwhile endeavor as far as my self ...more
Ignacio Senao f
Mar 11, 2015 Ignacio Senao f rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nos abre su mente describiendo todo su dolor, e intentando convencernos y que le comprendamos. Todo el libro es una atmosfera de tristeza y soledad.
Sabido es que los mejores autores de terror son aquellos que han sufrido mucho, y pueden describirnos el terror de la mejor manera. Pues imposible es contarnos algo que realmente no has pasado en la realidad. Tú no sabes que es el dolor de muela, si no lo has tenido, ¿Cómo vas a describirlo en un relato?
Ahora es comprensible que sus escritos sean tan
Mar 17, 2014 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nudged up to five stars just for how damn readable it was....We are not ad idem on everything, not least because where he sees horror, I see the hilariously absurd, but he provides an excellent overview of the more extreme pessimistic position, and has introduced me to some very interesting thinkers of whose work I was unaware...

Well worth a gander...
James Curcio
Mar 27, 2015 James Curcio rated it it was amazing
Years of meditating and reading books on philosophy, psychology, years of lucid dreams and night terrors, do not make a person unique. But it is singularly unique to find what feels like your own thoughts reflected back at you when you didn't pen them. As I read The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, I had a strange feeling, as if Deja vu and vertigo had somehow been blended together. Had I read this before, if I hadn't written it?

Yet that disturbing familiarity regards an utterly useless proce
poorvi cowkur
Nov 08, 2015 poorvi cowkur rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Too preoccupied with striving to achieve a good life, we are all too resolute in repressing any dreadful thoughts that can potentially threaten our intrinsic belief that being alive is alright. Ligotti is a genius in his writing and expounds a powerful argument about the bleakness of human existence and its unremitting struggle with consciousness, the mother of all horrors.Being a novice in the field of philosophical pessimism, this book was- while a little difficult at times to wrap my head ...more
Oct 13, 2014 Jonathon rated it liked it
This man wants you to kill yourself...what a dick...He clearly needs to get laid...

Pretentious, unnecessarily melodramatic and gaudy words so far. Ugh, it sounds like it was written by a 30 something obese whiny emo man walking around with a semen stained Gorgoroth shirt living in his mother's basement and suffering from male pattern baldness (this is not me)... Should I be wearing black eyeliner and lipstick while reading this? It reads like a philosophy 101 paper written by a goth half-wit...P
David Mcangus
Feb 05, 2014 David Mcangus rated it really liked it
Whenever I have the misfortune of turning the television on and coming across Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss or another of their pop atheist peers. I hope that instead of again arguing their materialistic perspective by denouncing religion, they might actually get to the heart of the matter of what that denouncement means. They don't however. Instead, like all humans (materialistic and religious alike) they try to force their subjective experience on the objective and call it a day.

The first
Sep 11, 2014 Andrei rated it it was ok
This book had come so highly recommended to me that I was almost certain it would blow me away. That was not the case.

It's not a bad book; it's not poorly written, nor does it fail to give a decent representation of pessimism. Perhaps to a complete layman it might have a more ground-breaking effect, but beyond the nice prose and the cool tidbits about other pessimists it didn't do much for me. By the time I reached the half-way point I was half-asleep. I wanted to be horrified and depressed; ins
Kai Schreiber
May 16, 2014 Kai Schreiber rated it it was amazing
A perfect, black gem of existential dread and despair. Starting from the premise that to be alive is not all right, and that the universe is a malignantly indifferent entity, whose eventual generation of consciousness is the source of much suffering and evil, it would seem hard to give the subject a positive spin; and indeed, Ligotti, unlike almost anybody else, does not. Unflinchingly, he stares existence in the moith and connects the dots that form the jaw that will crush every one alive today ...more
If you're anything like me, Ligotti's tone in this peculiar nihilistic screed will creep into daily life. Your girlfriend's listening to celebrity gossip Youtube videos in bed? MALIGNANTLY USELESS. Having to wait for three trains before you can finally cram onto the subway? MALIGNANTLY USELESS. The difference in your pool skills between your second and your fourth beer? MALIGNANTLY USELESS.

Is Ligotti a profoundly elegant writer? Yes. Does he successfully defend philosophical pessimism? Yes. Does
Rob Adey
Aug 13, 2014 Rob Adey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't really have anything to argue with in the philosophy expounded here. But the idea that consciousness is basically a horrible accident loses most of its force when presented in the campy Lovecraftian language and imagery Ligotti uses. It's like being lectured by a Boglin. Ten minutes of the actual real-life news backs up this thesis much more effectively.

Still - it's fun to imagine James Hetfield reading this, scratching his head with a shark's fin plectrum, looking for song titles.
Christopher Slatsky
Apr 19, 2014 Christopher Slatsky rated it liked it
Ligotti is a phenomenal talent and his weird lit’ a huge influence on me. While his antinatalist views make his fiction that much more compelling, and there are many cogent points made by philosophers with a similar point (Benatar being the most well-known contemporary), I don’t find his views as presented in The Conspiracy Against the Human Race particularly convincing when removed from his literary source. I’m reminded of Blackwood’s pantheism in that it informs much of his fiction but doesn’t ...more
Daniel Roy
Oct 24, 2014 Daniel Roy rated it really liked it
You shouldn't read this book if you're feeling down. Heck, even if you're feeling cheerful, this book will kick your happiness in the kidney and leave it reeling. It's a grim book, filled with forbidden knowledge about the human condition. I figure it's a question of time before someone kills themselves and this book gets the blame, although that would be missing its point.

I came by this book via HBO's True Detective when I heard the series' creator had read it (along with In the Dust of This Pl
C. Derick
Aug 02, 2015 C. Derick rated it it was amazing
Ligotti's anti-humanism is far more profound that the utilitarian influenced anti-natalism it is often naively linked to. Ligotti explores the anti-human and cosmic perspective that has often been expressed in weird fiction, and not just his own, but he may be its most articulate and interesting spokesperson. Ligotti themes around the terror of nihilism and the inability to accept a lesser role in the universe after wrapped in delicious aphorism and almost jet black humor: "Life is a confidence ...more
Johannes Kamikaze
Feb 14, 2014 Johannes Kamikaze rated it really liked it
This book was a weird experience. One of the most pessimistic reads of my life, yet written so well that the text kept mesmerizing me. I haven't yet read any Ligotti's fiction but I'm already impressed with his ability to use words and guide the reader effortlessly through this 'negative' journey.

I got the feeling that the point of the book was to show that although we deny the existence of supernatural horror and only enjoy it as fiction, the real horror lives in reality. He also shows that the
Kevin K
A bracing book due to the uncompromising depth of its pessimism. This book reminds me in many ways of Pascal (Pensées) and John Gray (Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals), but Ligotti is far more consistent in rejecting any sort of happy resolution based on self-deception. This is pessimism on steroids.

Ligotti is a gifted writer, and there were dozens of sentences in this book that moved me with their dark, arresting turns of phrase.

The pointers into the literature of pessimism were
Rodrigo Tello
May 31, 2015 Rodrigo Tello rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Una disección brutal y visceral por parte del maestro titiritero Ligotti, de la conspiración que a la gente le parece bien seguir manteniendo. Hay amargura entre sus páginas, es cierto, pero qué grande es cuando mete el dedo en la llaga y nos señala, y nos culpa, y nos pone en evidencia. Y al fin y al cabo, qué otra salida nos queda que seguir conspirando contra nosotros mismos? nunca tendremos las pelotas de afrontar nuestra única realidad, la de marionetas que se dedican a vagar por esta ...more
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Thomas Ligotti is a contemporary American horror author and reclusive literary cult figure. His writings, while unique in style, have been noted as major continuations of several literary genres—most prominently Lovecraftian horror—and have overall been described as works of "philosophical horror", often written as philosophical novels with a "darker" undertone which is similar to gothic fiction. ...more
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“This is the great lesson the depressive learns: Nothing in the world is inherently compelling. Whatever may be really “out there” cannot project itself as an affective experience. It is all a vacuous affair with only a chemical prestige. Nothing is either good or bad, desirable or undesirable, or anything else except that it is made so by laboratories inside us producing the emotions on which we live. And to live on our emotions is to live arbitrarily, inaccurately—imparting meaning to what has none of its own. Yet what other way is there to live? Without the ever-clanking machinery of emotion, everything would come to a standstill. There would be nothing to do, nowhere to go, nothing to be, and no one to know. The alternatives are clear: to live falsely as pawns of affect, or to live factually as depressives, or as individuals who know what is known to the depressive. How advantageous that we are not coerced into choosing one or the other, neither choice being excellent. One look at human existence is proof enough that our species will not be released from the stranglehold of emotionalism that anchors it to hallucinations. That may be no way to live, but to opt for depression would be to opt out of existence as we consciously know it.” 167 likes
“For the rest of the earth’s organisms, existence is relatively uncomplicated. Their lives are about three things: survival, reproduction, death—and nothing else. But we know too much to content ourselves with surviving, reproducing, dying—and nothing else. We know we are alive and know we will die. We also know we will suffer during our lives before suffering—slowly or quickly—as we draw near to death. This is the knowledge we “enjoy” as the most intelligent organisms to gush from the womb of nature. And being so, we feel shortchanged if there is nothing else for us than to survive, reproduce, and die. We want there to be more to it than that, or to think there is. This is the tragedy: Consciousness has forced us into the paradoxical position of striving to be unself-conscious of what we are—hunks of spoiling flesh on disintegrating bones.” 113 likes
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